Nova woke up to the feeling of a hand stroking the curve of her hip. The sensation was very gentle, the fingertips just barely grazing against her skin. It almost tickled.

It made for quite the pleasant wake-up call.

Nova didn’t bother opening her eyes; they were still heavy with sleep. Instead, she clumsily patted away the hand that had suddenly left her hip and launched on a journey toward more… adventurous territory. Her feeble resistance only elicited an amused chuckle from the warm and soft body next to her.

Warm…Continue reading

I open my eyes only to find myself suddenly assailed by a feeling of intense vertigo. Almost as if I fell asleep sitting on a chair balanced on its two back legs, and all of a sudden, it tilted backward, and the drop woke me up.

I look frantically around myself.

I’m… inside an iceberg. A toppling, splintering iceberg.

No, wait. Inside that gigantic ice spider of Akasha’s, rather. Except that it’s breaking to pieces. And lying right next to me, in a growing pool of blood so black I have goosebumps all over my arms and my instincts scream danger at me the moment I see it, is…Continue reading

A wooden valley, deep in the Karna mountain range that forms a natural border between the kingdoms of Athur and Selden. It’s roughly in the northeastern quadrant of the human continent, and nothing marks this place as meaningful in any way.

Few people know that beneath the valley’s floor lies one of the Emperor’s secret laboratories, where the Taint and the demons it produces are studied. Even the researchers working there have no idea where exactly the facility is located.

I, however, know. I escaped from it, after all. And though it was two centuries ago, my memories of that time have not faded. Not in the slightest.

Karim too knows. He’s the one who provided me with the exact maps, blueprints, and schematics of the facility. His last coded message also informed me that he suspected other labs were slated for construction in the near future, but the Emperor hasn’t shared their locations with him, yet. Perhaps, he never will.Continue reading

Three years spent on the run.

I was supposed to head to Alsomn, burn Adkins’s house down around him, and rescue my little sister from his clutches, in a feat of extreme and cathartic violence. I would give everyone involved a taste of their own medicine. I would plant their severed heads on spikes. I would free the captured princess. We would ride off into the sunset and live together, happily ever after, far from any danger.

It didn’t happen that way. At all.

The world is not that kind.Continue reading

Ten years after our escape from the laboratory, I think I can be forgiven for forgetting that we were ever being hunted. After all, there has never been any sign of the people after us getting close to finding us.

Those ten years were even quite enjoyable. They gave lie to the doubts and fears I harbored that day. It took a while to settle in, and it still ticks me off that I have to see Thelyron’s face every single day, but Akasha’s presence more than makes up for that.

Really, the only dark cloud hanging over our heads has been Akasha’s disease getting progressively worse with time. I harass Thelyron constantly to push him to find a cure before it’s too late, but this incompetent bastard still has nothing to show for it even after a decade of effort.

I can see it’s eating him inside. As well it should.Continue reading

“Cough, cough!”

I raise my arm and hold my sleeve against my nose and mouth to try and avoid breathing in the smoke. An alarm rings stridently in the distance, and fire is spreading everywhere. The room – no, the prison – that housed me for the past two years has already disappeared behind the curtain of flames.

I shudder to think what would have happened to me if I hadn’t left in time.

“Nerys, this way! Hurry!”Continue reading

Nova followed Iris out of the gallery through a service doorway on the side of the building, far from the bustle of the tourist-infested main entryway.

“My place isn’t far. Here, this way,” Iris said, taking Nova’s hand in hers and intertwining their fingers together in a quite intimate fashion.

Nova shook her head and extricated her hand out of Iris’s grasp. Then offered her right hand instead. The fingers of her left danced. ‘I can’t speak without this hand, so I’d be grateful if you could use the other.’

Iris did so as she gazed at the movements of Nova’s left hand. “Sure. What’s up with that? Are you mute? Is that why you’re speaking through a machine?”Continue reading

Nova woke up the next morning in a rather sore body. She stretched out her limbs while still in bed, trying to work off some of the pain.

It wasn’t just her shoulder. That had mostly healed, in fact. But the sequelae of the previous night’s stunts were starting to be felt. Slamming a truck into another vehicle at high speed was little different from being involved in an actual car crash. Nova had had time to brace for impact, of course, and when her body had been warmed up and full of adrenaline, she hadn’t suffered many adverse effects. But now, with a night’s rest cooling down her muscles, she realized once again that she wasn’t quite as indestructible as Sirius was.

It wasn’t debilitating, though. She’d likely be fine by tomorrow.

Rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, Nova slowly crawled her way out of bed and carelessly dug into her suitcase for clean clothes. She found the same outfit she’d worn on the plane trip to Verizen, with the suspender skirt and black thigh-highs. It had already been cleaned and pressed by the suitcase’s internal mechanisms upon being stored back into it, so Nova put it on without further ado, though she left her hair unbound, this time.Continue reading

Rana sat on the living room couch, leaning her body against Fareed with her cheek resting against his shoulder. Her eyes were fixed on the TV before her, but her mind was focused on something else entirely.

Namely, the girl her son had invited into their home yesterday.

And the implication of that girl’s presence here.

Of course, Rana’s concerns weren’t as frivolous as Camilla’s. Rana’s daughter was convinced that Sirius and Nova were lovers. Camilla felt threatened, as if their guest would steal Sirius’s attention away from her. Which is why she was currently sulking in her room after being excluded from tonight’s outing. Rana too was curious about the exact nature of the relationship between the two teenagers, but her actual worries were somewhat more serious than that.Continue reading

Sirius lay prone behind a wall. Fragments of plaster and stone dust rained down all around him as the gunmen at the other end of the hallway sprayed assault rifle fire toward his position.

Alarmingly many bullets made it through the wall, but it was thick enough that even the few that touched Sirius’s body didn’t have much momentum anymore and bounced harmlessly off his suit. Still, their enthusiasm in expending all their ammunition did force him to keep his head down, at least for the moment. He wouldn’t die from a direct hit or three, but a few of his ribs might break. Healing from that wouldn’t be an issue but would take a little time. Considering the amount of work he still had to complete after this hotel, however, he couldn’t afford that.

Ordinarily, he would’ve pushed himself a bit and dealt with his trouble on his own, but tonight, he wasn’t alone. The situation changed.

Suddenly, out of the six sources of gunfire aiming for him, one fell silent. The others also faltered, and in the momentary hush, Sirius heard the dull thump of a body toppling to the floor.Continue reading